Background to the process
The INWO believes in fairness and transparency. While we are the last stage in the NHS whistleblowing process, and we recognise that a vital part of our role is to draw a line under complaints and issue a final decision, we also accept that that we are not infallible. The law says that people and bodies can only challenge our decisions by judicial review. We know that this can be a complicated technical process, and so we have, of our own initiative, established a process for reviewing our decisions.
Asking for a review
We make a decision on each whistleblowing complaint we receive. We do this by taking into account the relevant evidence and the views and opinions of both the person making the complaint and the organisation being complained about.
Where we have decided not to investigate, or decided to discontinue an investigation, you may ask us for a review of our decision. However, not all of our decisions are eligible for review under this process. In particular, the review process cannot be used to challenge the findings in a provisional or final investigation decision.
More details, including the timescales for requesting a review of our decision, are detailed below and in our leaflet (PDF).
The grounds on which you can ask us to review our decision on your complaint are limited. We will not accept a request for a review if you simply disagree with the outcome of your complaint.
This process is open to people and organisations who have received a decision from us other than an investigation decision.
The Ombudsman (who is the INWO) generally looks at all review requests. She will only change a decision if you:
- send new information, and/or
- demonstrate information we used was wrong, and/or
- demonstrate we made a mistake
- it has an impact on the original decision.
How to ask for a review
You should use a review request form (PDF). We can also send you a copy if you call us on Freephone 0800 008 6112.
You should send us your review request and all the supporting information within six weeks of the date of our decision letter. We will not accept review requests made later than six weeks, unless you can show there were special circumstances that meant you were unable to do so.
If you think you will not be able to meet the timescale for any reason, you should contact us as soon as possible to discuss this with us.
The Ombudsman will consider your request for a review and decide whether to review the decision. We will let you know whether your request is eligible – based on the above grounds. If it is, our response will also tell you whether we will uphold our original decision, change the decision, or reopen your complaint for further investigation.
The Ombudsman recognises that some review requests may raise patient/staff safety issues and she will consider such cases as a matter of priority. Overall, the Ombudsman aims to respond to review requests on a timely basis, with 95% of requests being responded to within 90 working days or less, and 40% being responded to within 50 working days or less.
If you want to challenge our decision again, you will only be able to do this using judicial review proceedings. Judicial review is a form of court proceeding where a judge reviews whether a decision or action by a public body is lawful. You may want to take legal advice before deciding whether this is appropriate in your case.